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Understanding car insurance policies and features

Understanding car insurance policies and features

When you buy or renew your car insurance, you’ll notice a number of different features you can opt for. To ensure you get the right cover, it’s worth knowing a bit about them.  

Here’s a quick guide to the eight most common features you’ll come across.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 27 JANUARY 2020

What’s no claims discount protection?

For every year that you drive without making a claim, you get a no claims discount (which some call a ‘no claims bonus’). Because it signifies that you’re a safe driver, it can gain you a discount on your insurance.

But as soon as you make a claim where your insurance provider pays out, you’ll lose some, or all of it.  

However, you can protect your no claims discount. You can do this once you’ve accrued 4 years of no claims (although some insurers may allow from 3 years) and it lets you keep your discount even if you do have to make a claim. But it's worth knowing, even with a protected no claims discount, your premium can go up anyway, because if you do make a claim this will be taken into account. If you need to make several claims then you may lose you no claims discount altogether. Most insurance providers will have tables to show how their protected no claims discount works.

What’s motor legal protection/legal cover?

This could cover the Motor legal protection cost of legal action resulting from a claim you make on your car insurance. Including it in your policy can start from around £30 a year.

It could also cover things that otherwise wouldn’t be included, like:

  • Medical costs for injury to you or your passengers
  • Damage to your car (if you don’t have a fully comp policy)
  • Excess you pay after a crash that wasn’t your fault.

What’s breakdown cover?

There are many different types of breakdown cover. At its most basic, breakdown cover means your car can be fixed on the side of the road or taken to a local garage. It’s worth considering this cover as recovery companies may charge additional call-out charges if you’re not already a member.

What’s personal accident cover or personal injury cover?

If you’re in an accident and you can’t claim from someone else, personal injury cover could offer compensation. It’s generally capped at £5,000 on standard policies but can go up to £100,000.

What’s personal possessions cover?

If your personal belongings are damaged or stolen from your car, this add-on could pay a set amount to help you replace them. Make sure you check the terms and conditions though, as its common among insurance providers that your car will need to have been locked and your items kept out of sight in the boot or a locked glove box for this cover to kick in.

What’s courtesy car cover?

If you use your car to get to work, or don’t have access to public transport, a courtesy car feature could be useful. It could provide a replacement vehicle from your insurance provider if you can’t use yours after an accident.

There are different levels of cover, from your car being repaired, to stolen, or even completely written off.

What’s windscreen cover?

You’d be forgiven for thinking repairs to your windscreen would be covered on your standard policy. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, so it might be useful to consider extra cover to pay out if your windscreen needs repairing or replacing.

It’s sometimes included in fully comprehensive policies, but make sure you check the details for any excess you might have to pay and whether it will affect your no claims discount if you make a claim.

What’s a driving abroad add-on?

This add-on covers you if you’re driving abroad. While all policies will give some cover by law on European roads, even fully comprehensive policies could be downgraded to the minimum level required by the country you’re in.

An EU extension covers you to drive at the same level as your policy in the UK. If you’re heading further afield, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider to discuss your requirements.

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